Ginebra cruises past Star in Game 7, secures Finals berth

By Patrick Sutare

PASAY—Barangay Ginebra did it again.

Entering the playoffs as seventh seed and having to overcome four do-or-die games, the Gin Kings had to ride on to their "Never Say Die" mantra again to defy the insurmountable odds.

On Tuesday night, the reigning Governors' Cup Champions brought up their A-game to score a wire-to-wire victory over the Star Hotshots, 89-76, in front of over 20,000 strong crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena and clinch a spot in the PBA Philippine Cup Finals.

Banking on their no non-sense defense, the Kings frustrated the Hotshots early, limiting them to just a single field goal in the first six minutes of the game while coasting to a roaring offensive start as well.

They led 11-2 to start and looked loose to break away, forcing Star coach Chito Victolero to call three early timeouts.

They ended the first period up by double digits, 26-16, and weathered Star's assault to go to the halftime break still ahead by nine, 45-36.

Allein Maliksi almost singlehandedly carried the Hotshots back in the third frame, unleashing 12 points in the period to pull his team to within three, 62-59.

But Sol Mercado knocked down a huge triple to stop the bleeding for Ginebra, 65-59.

It was a four-point game entering the fourth as Marc Pingris scored inside to end the third, 65-61.

But the Kings are not to be denied as they turned up the heat in the payoff period to douse their foes.

LA Tenorio led the way in the final period, scoring 10 of his 21 points as Ginebra cruised till the final horn, booking their trip to the Finals for the second consecutive conference.

The 5'8 guard added five assists and four rebounds, while Mercado posted his best scoring performance of the conference with 23.

Maliksi led the scoring for Star with 22, all coming in the first three quarters before being completely shut down after.

Pingris had an all-around effort of 17 markers, eight boards and six dimes, but all went to waste as his team fell after leading the series, 3-2.

Ginebra will face San Miguel in the Finals and Game 1 will begin on Friday still at the MOA Arena.

Box Scores:

Ginebra 89-Mercado 23, Tenorio 21, Aguilar 19, Thompson 10, Devance 7, Cruz 6, Ferrer 2, Marcelo 1, Caguioa 0, Ellis 0

Star 76-Maliksi 22, Pingris 17, Ramos 14, Barroca 8, Reavis 5, Lee 4, Jalalon 4, Melton 2, Sangalang 0, Simon 0, Dela Rosa 0

Quarterscores: 26-16, 45-36, 65-61, 89-76

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